George Whitefield


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George WhitefieldWhitefield, GEORGE, clergyman; born in Gloucester, England, December 16, 1714; was a religious enthusiast in very early life, fasting twice a week for thirty-six hours, and at the age of eighteen became a member of the club in which the denomination of Methodists took its rise. He became intimately associated in religious matters with John and Charles Wesley. In 1736 he was ordained deacon, and preached with such extraordinary effect the next Sunday that a complaint was made that he had driven fifteen persons mad. The same year the Wesleys accompanied Oglethorpe to Georgia, and in 1737 John Wesley invited Whitefield to join him in his work in America. He came in May, 1738; and after laboring four months, and perfecting plans for founding an orphan-house at Savannah, he returned to England to receive priest's orders and to collect funds for carrying out his benevolent plans. With more than $5,000 collected he returned to Savannah, and there founded an orphan-house and school, laying the first brick himself for the building, March 25, 1740. He named it " Bethesda " a house of mercy. It afterwards became eminently useful.

Mr. Whitefield was early accustomed to preach to large congregations assembled in the open air. He traveled and preached much in America. On Boston Common he addressed 20,000 people at one time, and was distinctly heard by all. Independent in his theology, he did not entirely agree with anybody. Although he was active in the establishment of the Methodist denomination, he disagreed with Wesley on points of doctrine, and was finally an evangelist without the discipline of any denomination. Whitefield crossed the Atlantic many times, and made tours in America from Georgia to New Hampshire. In September, 1769, he started on his seventh tour there, and the day before his death he preached two hours at Exeter, N. H., and the same evening addressed a crowd in the open air at Newburyport. He died of asthma the next day in Newburyport, Massachusetts, Sept. 30, 1770, and was buried under the pulpit of the Federal Street Church in that town.



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